Bank of England faces challenges over diversity and inclusion interventions

14 Mar 2019 By Emily Burt

Parliamentary committee criticises slow growth in minority representation, with ‘little evidence the gap is closing’

The Bank of England (BoE) has this week faced criticism in a report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for failing to deliver on its diversity and inclusion targets, with a high turnover of BAME employees and low representation of minority groups at senior management level. 

The report, Bank of England’s central services, scrutinised diversity targets the bank set to increase the proportion of female employees to 50 per cent, and the proportion of female senior managers to 35 per cent, by 2020. 

BoE had additionally set targets to increase the proportion of black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the workforce to 20 per cent by 2020, and 13 per cent in senior management by 2022. 

However, the committee warned BoE had “some way to go” in order to meet its diversity targets by the projected dates, with “little evidence the gap is closing quickly enough”. 

While the findings revealed nearly a third (32 per cent) of senior managers at BoE were female in January 2019, compared to 17 per cent in 2013, the overall proportion of female staff members in the last four years had been relatively stagnant, hovering between 44 per cent and 45 per cent since 2015.

BoE’s annual report further revealed less than half (43 per cent) of new staff members hired in 2018 were women.  

More troubling were the committee findings into the proportion of BAME employees at the organisation, with an increase of just 3 per cent between 2015 (15 per cent) and 2018 (18 per cent), and no increase between 2017 and 2018.

Just 5 per cent of employees working at senior management level came from a BAME background in 2018. 

The PAC expressed further concern that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of staff who left BoE in 2018 were BAME, suggesting problems with retaining employees from minority groups. 

“[With] 23 per cent of staff leaving the Bank from this group ... the overall proportion of BAME staff within the Bank is unlikely to improve,” the report warned, questioning what steps BoE had taken to measure the effectiveness of its interventions. 

BoE did not respond to People Management’s request for comment ahead of publication, but told the PAC a staff survey had returned positive responses to questions about inclusion, including respect for individuals, and whether individuals think the bank takes diversity seriously.

It added that it had looked closely at the number of BAME staff in reviewing recruitment, promotions and resignations, and would be considering the issue in February 2019.

The PAC has called on the bank to provide a report setting out the additional steps it will take to ensure it meets its diversity targets by June 2019. 

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